As leaders, we want and need employees who bring talent and drive to their jobs. Yet sometimes it is these very same traits that can lead to a lot of time and energy spent dealing with the conflict they create with other employees. Worse yet, their behavior can damage your company's reputation, lose clients and drive away valuable employees.
The classic example is the super talented, uber-competitive sales person who has the "win at all cost" attitude and uses it to win, and win constantly. Your challenges as his leader range from on-going friction and resentment among colleagues because he doesn't "play nice" or blows off deadlines for projects he feels are not a part of his job, to him cutting corners around compliance or regulatory issues that can legally expose your entire company.
The star player gets results for sure, but at what cost? Is the trouble she creates worth it to you and your company? There are no easy answers here, but I offer a few questions to ask yourself:
- If this person is in sales or account management, do you find yourself wondering who "owns" the relationship? In other words, if this person left would your clients go with her?
- Do you have a non-compete in place that provides legal protection if he left? If he holds technical or propriety knowledge, do you have a non-disclosure in place?
- If he's a sales person, how would you rate your relationship with his customers? Excellent? Good? Poor? Or non-existent?
- Is the conflict with other employees due to the high performer's own high standards? Are these standards that should be emulated and upheld by others? Is it "truth-telling" for the good of the company?
- Or, is the behavior really bullying? Is the conflict due to behaviors that ignore or flaunt company values and culture?
- Do you know or do you suspect that you have lost other good employees because of this high performer?
- Do you find yourself with a gut feeling that you are being "held hostage" by this person?
- Do often wonder what would happen to the company if she left? Are you afraid that no one could do the high performer's job?
- Are you not doing anything about the conflict and other incidences because you fear conflict and/or do not want to "rock the boat"?
- If you had the choice whether or not to hire this person again, what would you do?
A wise person once said, most people don't do anything about a situation until they are unhappy about it least half of the time. If you are you at that half-way point, or better yet, well before it, I invite you to ask yourself these tough questions, listen to your gut, and test your thoughts and feelings with your trusted advisors.
Lauren works with businesses leaders who want to develop and execute succession plans, sharpen their business practices, strengthen their leadership, and create long-lasting value in their businesses. She is a certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Leadership Coach. She is also a leader of the Excell Puget Sound Southend Group.
(206) 427-2856, (253) 245.3518